You know, when you marry your high school sweetheart at the ripe age of twenty-three, you get used to hearing all the common tropes about the trappings of marriage—aka way too many unwanted comments about your sex life. Among the most popular: “Are you really going to sleep with just one person for the rest of your life?!” Har har har. Well, ignoring the fact that marriage does not necessarily mean you only get to have sex with one person for the rest of your life (hello non-monogamy), I’ve always found the logic behind that threat kind of… backward. Because isn’t the benefit of getting to have sex with one person for a long time that you have infinity to work on making your sex life great with someone you trust?
But when we did our sex survey a while back, a near 25% of readers said that they were not satisfied with their sex lives. And well, we’re not satisfied with that. But much of the “improve your sex life” advice online is bad. Or overly complicated at the least. (Please tell me you’ve all seen the grapefruiting video? It is completely NSFW, but man.)
So if you’re feeling like you want to improve your sex life and are looking for a low-key (aka no grapefruits) feminist approach, we reached out to our community (and all of our Brand Director Najva’s sexpert friends) for their best feminist advice on how to improve your sex life. Here are nineteen of their tips to try out:
1. Remember To Initiate Sex
“Initiating sex tends to be one of those things that falls primarily on the shoulders of one partner. If you are very lucky, both of you will want sex with the same frequency and at the same times, but this is rare. It’s important to check in with each other periodically about whether you both are getting your sexual needs met, especially if it feels like one person is doing more of the sexual initiating than they’d like to be doing. It’s always good to switch roles up if you can!” —Myisha Battle, certified sex coach and founder of Down for Whatever podcast
2. Ask for sex in the middle of… anything
“Initiating sex can intimidating especially if you have been with your partner for a long time and maybe you are already past that initial lust stage… because I think we all know the lust stage at the start of a relationship is not sustainable forever. The intensity lessens as you move forward in a partnership with another person.
“On the upside, the longer the relationship the better you know your partners body and what they respond to and having established intimacy makes the sex you do have usually a lot more satisfying. Work stress, life stress, the damn car breaking down, laundry piling up—they can all get in the way. The smallest things could be distracting and derail a hot passionate connection with your partner. Perhaps your partner hasn’t wanted sex as frequently lately or there has been a dip in the libido you used to expect from them (or yourself). I always like to remind my clients that “sex” doesn’t have to always mean everyone has an orgasm and is lying in a sweaty pile of twisted sheets and floating on a cloud of post-coital bliss. Maybe it’s some heavy petting while one of you is doing the dishes that revs you and your partner up for something later. Maybe it’s putting your hand between their legs under the table at dinner when the waiter is asking if you want more bread rolls? Jeez…who doesn’t love a good thigh squeeze and more fresh hot bread at the same time?! (Maybe that’s just me.) Maybe it’s whispering to them what you would want, asking if they want that too or if they have other ideas and just walking away with a smirk on your face to see if they follow?
“The one thing to remember is that sometimes your partner may not be up for it. They may still love you to pieces and find you hotter than the fires of hell but just not be ready to have sex. Respecting that and not pulling back emotionally, mentally, or physically is a solidifying sign of love. And for sure that sets up the foundation that the rejection of an advance isn’t the end of the world, and it isn’t going to be met with some punitive action that could be corroding to your relationship long term.” —Domina Franco, sex and relationship coach and writer
3. Put Heavy Petting On The Calendar
“Scheduling sex may sound like the most unsexy thing in the world, but think about how often really important things get forgotten when they aren’t on the calendar! In my work with couples who find it difficult to squeeze in sex at the end of incredibly long, stressful days I recommend scheduling sex. Thinking that sex will just happen naturally amongst the chaos of everyday life is likely to end in disappointment. One amazing benefit to scheduling sex in the future is you have all that time leading up to it to think about what you’re going to do to each other. Building anticipation can lead to some of the hottest sex of your life.” —Myisha Battle, certified sex coach and founder of Down for Whatever podcast
4. Don’t underestimate date night
“When you have a busy schedule and you’re feeling overwhelmed, sometimes sex is just not in the cards for days—or maybe even weeks—because mentally or physically you may not be there. Do not judge yourself or one another when this inevitably happens. Instead, when you come up for air, regroup, take the time to reconnect with one another. Date night may be a cliché, but it is still very helpful to schedule it for the same night each week in your calendars. When you have to reschedule, do so without shame, and don’t feel guilty for prioritizing your relationship.” —Maisha Najuma Aza, owner of A Life Alive Consulting: Tantra Sacred Intimacy Coaching, Spiritual Consulting, and Shamanic Reiki
5. It’s all about the oxytocin
“In the beginning of a relationship lust is easy and desire is at an all-time high, fueled by pheromones and the build up of oxytocin in our systems from all the great, exploratory sex you’re having with a new partner. While passions can fade in time, they don’t have to, and we also don’t have to think our sex life has a death sentence because there is a lull in libido. Keep in mind what makes you feel sexy when you don’t even consider your partner. Focus on feeling good about yourself in whatever way that manifests. So much of what people call ‘great sex’ is in the mind. Be kind to your partner(s).
“Elicit good feelings between yourselves by offering to do something for your partner without being asked, give them a massage without expecting it to be anything else, tell them they are sexy. No need to forget the Golden Rule, ‘Treat others as you wish to be treated,’ but perhaps to use it alongside The Platinum Rule, ‘Treat others as THEY wish to be treated.’” —Domina Franco, sex and relationship coach and writer
6. You do you, Literally
“Masturbate! Orgasms from a partner can sometimes be difficult to achieve for both penis- and vagina-owners. This is usually (but not always) due to a lack of awareness of one’s own wants and desires. There is no better way to figure out your favorite way to orgasm than test-driving using your own fingers and toys. It is also much easier to communicate to your sexual partner(s) what you desire if you already know what you like! And you never know, maybe you’ll discover something new!” —Hannah Rimm, sexual and mental health writer and NSFW photographer
7. THE SEXTING GAME YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR
“I made up this little game called ‘Sweet & Nasty.’ First you text a ‘Sweet,’ which is a nice, loving memory or some wonderful experience or time you shared, something you appreciate about them etc., and then you very quickly follow it up with a separate ‘Nasty’ text, where you share something really fantastically raunchy or hot that you did in bed, something they did that you really enjoyed, or something you have been ruminating over all day WANTING to do with them. This little game, back and forth throughout the day, all that anticipation and lovey-dovey chat mixed up with all that horny erotic talk? …Fireworks!” —Domina Franco, sex and relationship coach and writer
8. Tell them your fantasy
Multiple sexperts agreed on this count. Turns out, to improve your sex life, you’ve got to talk about what turns you on (and what you want to explore!). Maisha says, “When discussing your kinks and fantasies with your partner, you must trust one another and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Approach it from a playful energy… ‘I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours (wink).’ If talking about it is difficult at first try using a kink/fantasy checklist. You can find many on the Internet these days. Show each other your lists and then talk about it, from a playful, curious, excited, and non-judgmental space.” And Euphemia adds, “Fantasies don’t have to be kinky, they can just be a sensation or experience you really desire right now. We are often force fed by media what our desires should look like, but explore exactly what you want. Then, build up the courage and ask your partner(s): ‘Heyyyy, so I have this fantasy… would you like to help me make it become reality?’ This can be an incredibly sexy and fun thing to do and propose.”
9. ENJOY THE DAY-TO-DAY REALITY
“Sensuality is completely underrated. In the name of all that is holy, don’t just jump right to the sex. Of course folks know about foreplay, but that is not what I am talking about here. Your sex life doesn’t have to be WILD to be amazing. You don’t have to be a member of Cirque du Soleil, flying through the air with sex toys in both hands to have fantastic sex. Go slow, be present. What part of your partner’s body don’t you usually kiss that much? The side of their rib cage? Their ankles? Long, purposeful, unrushed sessions of body worship are amazing. Treat your partner like they are the eighth wonder of the world, or ask them to treat you like you are! (Hint: You both are.)” —Domina Franco, sex and relationship coach and writer
10. ORDER OFF THE SEX MENU
“I find a lot of anguish and strife in relationships comes from thinking of sex as an accomplishment rather than an experience. This is often centered on the idea of intercourse and orgasm as the only thing that can result in satisfaction and connection. In reality, sex is a menu, and what satisfies you should depends on your unique tastes and appetites. Oral sex, masturbating together, manual sex, dirty talk and role play, kinky activities like spanking or bondage, attending sex parties, or watching porn together… the possibilities are endless when we focus on the erotic imagination, adventurous sensations, and shared experiences.” —Tina Horn, host and producer of the sexuality podcast Why Are People Into That?!
11. HAVE NEW EXPERIENCES OUTSIDE THE BEDROOM
“Be open to exploring new things together. Especially if it’s something one of you are curious about trying. Take a class together, read the same erotic novel, visit a sex shop, or attend a sexy event. You can do all of these things to get that new relationship rush.” —Dirty Lola, host of Sex Ed A-Go-Go
12. TRY A DIFFERENT KIND OF HAND JOB
“Taking warmed oil to the lusty love lines of your lover’s palm and massaging deeply into every crevice of their hands can lead to the hottest sex you’ve ever had. Why? Our hands are one of our hardest working body parts and one of the most ignored. A study regarding the body language of speakers in TED talks revealed that the least popular speakers used an average of 272 hand gestures, while the most popular and viral TED speakers used almost double that—an average of 465 hand gestures. Our hands, in the realm of non-verbal communication, exude passion, warmth, connection, and confidence. Based on my own Czech Romani ancestry, the lines of our hands hold our unique stories. In the practice of sensual acknowledgement of the hands, I guarantee that it will unlock the door to a hot sex life and connected passion.” —Veronica Varlow, love witch, international showgirl, and passion provocateur
13. HAVING A RECEIVING SESSION
“Devote sessions to just giving or receiving, and take turns. For this, it is important to schedule a few hours together, and then one person fully receives. Let’s be honest, not many of us are very good at that and need practice. The session is ideally without any expectation of orgasm, so it takes the pressure off and moves the focus to feeling the sensuality of being together. Then in the next session, swap turns to give and receive!” —Euphemia Russell, sexuality and pleasure educator
14. Show them who is boss
“I like to recommend ‘bossy sessions,’ where you can ask for EXACTLY what you want. This is such a great way to learn more about your partner’s (or partners’) and your own pleasure. It’s also a great way for you to get better at asking for you want without feeling like you’ll hurt egos. It takes the pressure off feeling like you need to be a mind reader and that you should have already mastered how to pleasure them. All around, it’s win-win.” —Euphemia Russell, sexuality and pleasure educator
15. REALiZE WHAT YOU LIKE CHANGES
“Know that your sexual desires (as well as your partner’s) will most likely change from day to day. Your sex life is a constant journey of transformation. Give yourself (and your partner) the grace of exploration, and the willingness to learn new turn ons. So many of my clients come into my office telling me that they don’t like something sexually, and then expand into new turn ons and desires that they never thought possible!” —Genevieve Pleasure, founder of Essential Reclamation, certified Erotic Blueprint Coach
16. Go beyond the bedroom
“Your sex life can sometimes feel repetitive and mundane after being together for a while, depending on the partnership and the busyness of your schedules. To make your sex life feel less repetitive you can watch feminist porn or a sexy movie, or go see a sexy show together to inspire your imagination in the bedroom. Better yet, take it outside of the bedroom! Find other locations to have some sensual or sexual fun. Some examples are other rooms in the house, the porch or balcony, the car, a hotel room, a rooftop at midnight, your local dungeon, a sex party in your area, or host a sex party of your own! You can do it—think outside of the box!” —Maisha Najuma Aza, owner of A Life Alive Consulting: Tantra Sacred Intimacy Coaching, Spiritual Consulting, and Shamanic Reiki
17. Give yourself an even BIGGER break post-baby
“After pregnancy, your body may feel strange, and your focus is primarily on the baby. Physically, your core and pelvic floor muscles may be quite weak. Pay attention to the changes that are happening physically and emotionally, and communicate these feelings to your partner. This will keep your connection and maintain intimacy. For different reasons, each of you may need reassurance that you are sexy, attractive, and desirable to the other. Remember that you can have sex and intimacy without including direct genital touch at all. Begin with things like kissing, sensual touch, sensual massage, tribadism. Offer loving, erotic attention to your whole bodies (sans genitals) over a period of days, even weeks or months—no need to rush. When you both communicate that you’re ready, begin to include direct genital touch in your sexual intimacy.” —Maisha Najuma Aza, owner of A Life Alive Consulting: Tantra Sacred Intimacy Coaching, Spiritual Consulting, and Shamanic Reiki
18. How To Survive The Ebb and Get Back To Flow
“Big life events, the death of a parent, a struggling kid, loss of a job, facing the challenges around mental illness or aging, or any other myriad factors may not change our physical ability to have sex, but it can certainly change our emotional ability to do so. When my mother died quite unexpectedly earlier this year, coupled with a lot of stress with graduate school, my sex drive really changed. It kind of went from drive to park. My partner was patient and that really helped. We had our connections, sex didn’t stop entirely, but it changed during that time. Now that it’s eight months later, it’s coming back toward where it was. We’re trying new things, and keeping the old classics on hand too.
“Eventually folks heal from big events, but there is no distinct timeline on when that is. Maybe you find your child is getting the help they need, a new job is secured, you find the way to take care of yourself, and you come back to a balance—but there has to be time for that. You can’t rush yourself to act as you did before these big events because your brain and your heart are trying to make sense of what’s happening. Pressuring yourself into sex when you aren’t feeling it is not only harmful to you, it disconnects you from your partner and puts this invisible but real curtain of silence between the two of you: you are playing the person you were before, when in truth you’re just not there the same way. If you can muster up the courage, you can say to your partner that you just can’t connect with them physically right now, but that won’t be forever. You can ask them to still keep loving you. Maybe you need affection and asking for that helps you stay bonded until things come back to homeostasis. Talking and not burrowing into yourself and leaving your partner wondering seems to be a really good way to make sure you come out the other side of a big change or traumatic event with your sex life still in tact.” —Domina Franco, sex and relationship coach and writer
19. Hire a professional
Turns out, some people spend a lot of time and energy studying how to have excellent sex lives. To gain some of their knowledge you can do something less intimidating, like attending sexual talks or workshops together. But if you’re really curious (or desperate! No judgments) Genvieve recommends: “Hire a sex coach to really uplevel your sex life. Make sex as much of a priority as eating, sleeping, etc.”
Okay, you’ve heard from us. now I want to hear from you guys. How long have you and your partner been together? how have you kept things sexy? (Are you keeping things sexy?) Have you found your sex life is getting better or worse over time? What about after kids (if you have them)? Let’s get down about getting down.